The Art of Seed Sowing
Pastor Sam Inman
I came across someone who inspires me. I don’t want to make him sound perfect, but he tries to inspire others with the gift God gave him. He stands for the truth. He’s not a superstar, but he works just as hard at training as he does at competing. And he is willing to give Jesus Christ the credit for everything. His name is Glen Thurston. [VIDEO- Sowing Seeds Part 1 produced by ID Boards] http://vimeo.com/idboards/sowingseeds
Awesome isn’t it. That was part one of sowing seeds and I believe part two will be released in June on his website Glenthurson.com.au. The song was “On the Shores” by Jonathan and Melissa Hessler. How many of you aspire to be a professional body boarder. If you did this guy would be a great role model and if you don’t he is still an inspiration. So I have one question for you today. Just seeing a video of this guy awakens something inside of you that you didn’t know was there a second ago. He’s passionate, committed, and humble and that affects you. It’s almost like he’s surrendered to something. In the beginning of the video he plants some seeds. He believes that working on his home life will ultimately benefit him in other ways. It’s like reaping a harvest. I want you to pretend that you are Glen. You just got news that some awesome waves are breaking on the coast but you have these seeds in you hand. What are you doing with the seed? Stick it in your pocket and hit the surf. Toss them aside? Or sow them in the soil to reap a harvest later?
After being accused of casting out demons by the prince of demons and after the Pharisees and Teachers asked him to perform a sign Jesus went to sit by the lake. A good idea right. Well so many people followed him there that he got into a boat. Jesus was fed up with the disbelief. He had made it very plain and performed many miracles. On this day he told several parables. The first one in Matthew chapter 13 went like this.
A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed,
Some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up.
Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root.
Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants.
Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. Whoever has ears, let them hear.”
That was it He scattered the seed on four kinds of soil. Only of the four was truly receptive to the seed. Jesus continued and told several more parables with some themes. So this next part is important. After he finished telling this one,
The disciples came to him and asked, “Why do you speak to the people in parables?”
He replied, “Because the knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has beengiven to you, but not to them. Whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them.
Then he quoted a passage from the prophet Isaiah which talks about people who are who have chosen not to see what is right in front of them.
This is why I speak to them in parables:
“Though seeing, they do not see;
though hearing, they do not hear or understand.
In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah:
“‘You will be ever hearing but never understanding;
you will be ever seeing but never perceiving.
For this people’s heart has become calloused;
they hardly hear with their ears,
and they have closed their eyes.
Otherwise they might see with their eyes,
hear with their ears,
understand with their hearts
and turn, and I would heal them.
But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear. For truly I tell you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.
In all of the parables Jesus told that day he knew many were not getting it. It seems that one purpose of the allegories that he was telling was to reassure those who believed that they did in fact understand and confirm that those who were hardened still did not get it. Jesus told the disciples that they understood the mysteries of heaven. So whatever secret meaning the parables had. Jesus didn’t want to entrust the hardhearted unbelievers with that treasured knowledge. So what was the mystery that he referred to about the Kingdom of Heaven?
“Listen then to what the parable of the sower means: When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in their heart. This is the seed sown along the path. The seed falling on rocky ground refers to someone who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful. But the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.”
Jesus is clearly drawing distinctions between those who have been given understanding of God’s Kingdom and those who are being hardened to it. But the fact that some understand and some don’t is not the secret he’s referring to. When you read the following parables as well there are common threads. The main one is the kingdom of heaven. Jesus really is revealing the secret to how God rules his Kingdom. The parables that follow are more urgent than the sower and the seed and they all seem to reveal a significant theme in God’s Kingdom the Heavenly kingdom. The principle is this. Everyone now has received an invitation through Jesus Christ to participate with God in what he is doing on the earth. Some people will reject it outright, some people will be superficial followers and won’t make it, some will start out but get discouraged or distracted and some will receive with an open heart and understand.
All of God’s people had been waiting for the fulfillment of God’s promise through the messiah and Jesus was letting his follower in on the secret the he was it. The seed represented God’s word and John wrote that Jesus was the Word in the flesh. In that sense the seed is Jesus. God loved you so much that he took what was most valuable to him and tossed it down on the earth. He knew that his Son, rejected by many, would be beaten, mocked, and killed. But in those who received the seed it produced a harvest 30, 60, and 100 times what was sown. It makes me think about how the apostles started out like regular guys with a desire to know Jesus. Then they all ended up giving their lives to spread the story of how God’s kingdom came to earth. Their lives ended up as seeds scattered back on the earth and the seed they sowed is the same seed that has been presented to you so I’m asking you again. What are you going to do with the seed?
The first choice to make is whether or not to receive it. You will have to make yourself vulnerable and take a big risk. When the seed starts to grow in you it will take over. You can’t just carry around a label that says a tomato is planted here and then leave no room for it to grow. It will be obvious when anything new that grows in your life quickly dies. And lastly you can’t have the seed and be friends with the thorns. Some of the things you hang onto for security need to be uprooted. Be aware of that. That thorn bush may seem like it provides nice shade now but it is choking the new life that is trying to grow in you. In a moment I’m going to give you an opportunity to receive the seed and ask Jesus to plant himself in firmly in your heart.
If you’ve received the seed then the second choice is whether or not you will choose to imitate Christ’s humility and let yourself be scattered. Not every kind of soil is going to receive you. Some will leave you for the birds. Others will say all the right things but deep down they will be holding you off and keeping you out of their hearts. Still others will walk with you a ways but weeds in their life will keep them back and choke them out. But finally there will be some who receive the life that has been given to you, and you will get to see it take root and multiply in and through them.
I’m not going to say that cultivating the soil is easy. When you see something that is done so skillfully that it becomes a thing of beauty we call it art. Everyone knows that the most skillful way of crafting something is from scratch. Whether it’s building a car, baking a cake, or gardening.
The Artful Gardener starts his plants from seed. One of my dreams is to live off of the land and grow my own food. And I wonder if I could do it. You may think I’m crazy, but it sounds like a great adventure to me.
I think the reason more people don’t is because it’s a lot of work and it’s a huge risk. If you fail you might starve. Well not really you might have to declare bankruptcy and apply for aid, or even worse beg for your old job back. But people take those kinds of risks don’t they? There’s got to be some reason why more people aren’t subsistence farming. It can’t be money. The sunlight is free, the soil is free, there is even still free seed, and the water is even free one-third of the time. There’s a lot to consider in farming though: weather, soil type, light exposure, watering, fertilizer, plowing, weeding, spraying, mulching, insects, and disease.
I get the feeling that seed sowing has become a lost art. It makes me thankful for the farmer that prepared the soil and sowed seed months ago so that I can have lunch today. We have it too easy. We are certainly reaping what we didn’t have to sow.
But what is more important, what you are given or how you receive it, and what you do with it? Here’s a good question. What are you sowing now? And who is reaping the benefits or consequences of your actions?
The seed is God’s word but God’s word is delivered just as much by how you live as it is by what you say. Are you striving to inspire your peers? Inspiration is a seed. Do you follow the rules to show that you are committed and you care? Your commitment will reap a harvest too. Do you recognize other people’s accomplishments? Giving recognition at the appropriate times can bear a lot of fruit.
Can you praise someone’s progress even if you could do better? Can you try just as hard when no one notices your efforts? Here’s a tough one. Can you share what Jesus has done in your life with anyone? Why not? Is the risk too great? They might not listen. You may lose face. You may lose a friend. You may become an outcast. Well probably not but you might be uncomfortable at first.
You need to start thinking about what God might do if you sow the right seed at the right time. In the bible “Isaac sowed and that year reaped a crop 100 times what he sowed and God blessed him (Genesis 26:12). Can you imagine if every time you shared your story 100 people were inspired to have greater faith. The best investments I’ve heard of make about twelve to fifteen percent. 100 times is 10,000 percent. Everyone should be dying to get in on an investment like that. I have a small retirement account and it gives me great satisfaction to see how much interest it accumulates every year. But the real retirement is going to be when this life is over. Sowing seeds is like investing in a 401k in heaven? If you want to start building your portfolio read Matthew chapter 25. It will give a good perspective on what matters to God. He is definitely expecting a return on His investment in you.
The whole reason for the art of sowing is reaping right. The basic idea behind reaping is that for every reward or benefit you have ever received someone else has done the work to sow the seed, not to mention cover it, water it, nurture it. Nobody wants to go to that trouble without some assurance of what the harvest will be like. If you love tomatoes you start imagining ripe garden fresh juicy one’s and pretty soon you are at home depot buy the seed and soil. If you are a hot rod guy and you see an old beat up body of a 1963 corvette abandoned in a field you are gonna get on you phone to your buddies and start piecing that thing together over the phone before you even get home. For me it’s burritos. I have a burrito vision and pretty soon there are rice and beans simmering on the stove. But how would you know what the harvest could be like if you hadn’t experienced it before. That is why you can’t sow seed effectively until you’ve reaped. God loved you first. While you were still a sinner Jesus died for you.
Before you ever sowed you owed. Knowing how to get into debt seems to be included with the human package. In fact the bible says we are all born with a debt to sin. Jesus paid our debt, which cost His life. The fact is everyone starts out by reaping a harvest that was sown in blood sweat and tears by someone else. My dad used to tell me, “You owe me your life.” That was because I was asking for money that I thought my parents owed to me. Understanding that just giving birth to you is a debt that you can never repay, that’s perspective. We keep telling God, “You owe me this, or when am I going to get that. He’s just waiting for you to give him you life. Make your soul His soil. You can either stay enslaved to sin or choose to make Jesus your Master. It’s simple because there aren’t other options. Even if sin hadn’t entered the world through Adam and Eve we still owe our existence to the Creator. Jeremiah chapter 1 says that He formed me in my mother’s womb. You owe him your life already, but He gave it to you to choose what you will.
Will you choose the bird pecked, stony, thorn choked life or the chosen, committed, surrendered one.